June 28, 2010

The 70 and the 4th

The Church calendar is a strange contraption. This year, the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost falls on July 4th, Independence Day for the United States. As per Church rules, the Church's celebration of Independence Day is moved to Monday the 5th, and so we get very strange lessons for the 4th in a community filled with retired military who will expect some reference to the holiday at hand.

O joy.

I think I see an in, however, in the very last line of the lesson from Luke, "Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."

I never served in the Armed Forces. I've never been in a war zone. I don't have a clue what those experiences are like, but my guess is that in the midst of battle there is a whole lot of joy when the side determined to be evil (that is to say, not our side) submits in the course of battle; they retreat, they surrender, whatever. That would have to be a good thing.

But there is something better. The end of war, the installation of peace, the in-breaking of the Kingdom of God. That is better. The freedom that is received when our names are written in heaven. That is better. This country hasn't always lived up to the values of the Kingdom. OK, this country has never fully lived up to God's dream. And yet, post-slavery, post-women's suffrage, post-civilrights, we are closer now than ever.

Don't rejoice because the enemy turns away, rejoice because of your freedom, freedom that comes from you name being written in heaven.

It is a start... at least.

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